10 Women Who Are Changing the Landscape of Corporate Social Responsibility

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What a year 2018 has been in the world of stakeholder engagement, public affairs and corporate social responsibility. There’s a buzz in the air like we’ve never seen before: campaigns against plastic usage, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) becoming a key business priority, and Millennials changing the business world.


In some respects, this change has manifested intangibly, through vectors like technology and social media. But in other ways, it has been much more visible, such as the growing number of women in C-level and decision-making positions.


This isn’t merely feel-good news for women: it also bodes well for our collective future.  Researchers at Catalyst and Harvard Business School (HBS) have found that what’s good for women is good for business and for society as a whole. According to Gender and Corporate Social Responsibility: It’s a Matter of Sustainability, companies with more women at the top may be better practitioners of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Prior Catalyst research has also shown that such companies also financially outperform, on average, those with fewer women in senior leadership roles.
So who are these women who are helping companies drive profitability as they advance the notions of sustainable development and corporate social responsibility? Here are 10 women we think are worthy of mention.

1. Indra Nooyi – Chair, PepsiCo

Food & Beverage

Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi is currently Chair of PepsiCo’s board of directors, and previously served as the company’s Chairperson and CEO from 2006 to 2018. She is the chief architect behind PepsiCo’s “Performance with Purpose” pledge to do what’s right for the business by being responsive to the needs of the world around us. Nooyi has consistently ranked among the world’s 100 most powerful women.



2. Mary Barra – Chair and CEO, General Motors Co. 


Mary BarraMary Teresa Barra is the Chair and CEO of General Motors Company, where she has laid the company’s road map for safer, more sustainable transportation. She has held the CEO position since 2014 and is the first female CEO of a major global automaker. She’s a GM lifer who started her career the company in 1980. In 2014, she was featured on the cover of Time for its “100 Most Influential People in the World” issue, and listed for the third time as one of the world’s most powerful women by Forbes.


3. Ginni Rometty – Chair, President and CEO, IBM


Ginny RomettyVirginia Marie “Ginni” Rometty is the current chair, president and CEO of IBM, and the first woman to head the company. Since becoming CEO in 2012, Rometty has reinvented IBM to focus on “innovation that matters” in the new era of AI, blockchain, cybersecurity and quantum technologies. She began her career with IBM in 1981 and steadily worked her way up leadership positions.


4. Geisha Williams – President and CEO, PG&E Corp


Geisha WilliamsGeisha J. Williams has been President and CEO of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company since 2017. During her tenure at PG&E, the company has become a leader in renewables integration, grid modernization and smart grid technologies, while also achieving the best electric reliability in company history. Williams joined the company in 2007 and has more than three decades of experience in the energy industry.


5. Zeinab Camara – Head of Communities Relations and Compliance, Rio Tinto 


Zeinab CamaraZeinab Camara has been managing Communities Relations and Compliance at Rio Tinto since 2013, where she oversees governance, risk and compliance in accordance with numerous company and industry standards as well as government legislation with respect to land acquisition and resettlement. Camara is an expert in sustainable social investments and partnership in the mining sector, and led Rio Tinto’s in-country Ebola response, mobilizing $3.4 million for the fight against the disease.


6. Froydis Cameron Johansson – Group Head of International and Government Relations, Anglo American 


Froydis Cameron JohanssonFroydis Cameron Johansson has been Group Head of International and Government Relations at Anglo American since 2017. She has over 10 years of experience with the company, serving in various leadership roles relating to safety, sustainability, compliance and corporate affairs. Froydis also has over a decade of prior experience in the oil and gas sector with Shell, where she held a number of technical, project and corporate positions around the world.


7. Elaine Dorward-King – EVP, Sustainability & External Relations, Newmont Mining Corporation


Elaine Dorward-KingDr. Elaine Dorward-King has been Executive Vice President of Sustainability & External Relations at Newmont Mining Corporation since 2013. She previously served as Managing Director of Richards Bay Minerals in South Africa, Global Head of Health, Safety and Environment at Rio and has also held leadership positions with Rio Tinto’s copper and borates businesses. Dorward-King has 25 years of leadership experience in sustainable development, safety, health and environmental strategy and programs in the mining, chemical and engineering consulting sectors.


8. Pia Heidenmark Cook – CSO, IKEA Group 


Pia Heidenmark CookPia Heidenmark Cook has been Chief Sustainability Officer at IKEA Group since early 2018, where she leads a team of sustainability professionals serving 30 markets in Europe, Asia Pacific and North America. Previously, she served as Head of Sustainability at IKEA Group Retail & Expansion, co-chair of REAP (Retailers Environmental Action Programme) and Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at the Rezidor Hotel Group.


9. Virginie Helias – VP, Global Sustainability, Procter & Gamble

Consumer goods

Virginie HeliasVirginie Helias has been Vice President of Global Sustainability at Procter & Gamble since 2016, where she is responsible for embedding sustainability and corporate citizenship into the company’s everyday practices. Helias has 29 years of experience at P&G and has worked across several of its multi-billion dollar brands. She has extensive international business experience having been based in France, UK, Switzerland and the United States.


10. Anne Chassagnette – CSO, Engie


Anne ChassagnetteAnne Chassagnette has been Chief Sustainability Officer of ENGIE a French multinational electric utility company since 2013. She is an active player on climate change and international environmental topics, and has served as leader for Group for COP21 and COP22. Chassagnette supports access to energy programs worldwide and is Vice-President of ENGIE investment fund with social impact, a board member of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), and a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).


At Boréalis, we spend our days developing our stakeholder engagement software so that it can better help companies and their CSR teams achieve sustainable development and protect their social license to operate. We’ll definitely be keeping our eyes on these inspiring trailblazers.

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